I’m so excited to be a part of the book tour for Turning that is hosted by TBR and Beyond Tours. I was really excited to also be able to interview the author for this book!
Welcome Joy! Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Can you start off by introducing yourself?
Thank you for the interview! I’m the author of TURNING my debut YA contemporary. I love writing for teenagers and young adults, which is a contrast to my career as an early childhood educator. I enjoy writing about Black girls with big passions and personalities with an urban backdrop, as I’m from Brooklyn.
How would you describe Turning in one sentence?
In one sentence, wow, this is hard for me. Here goes it: Genie’s unwritten love letter to who she’s becoming, not who she thought she was.
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of Turning?
First off is Genie, she’s the protagonist at that weird age of seventeen. She would describe herself as the gift of the Ballet world before her accident. Genie is very confident. Then there’s Kyle, the calm, quietly confident gymnast with a TBI who is struggling with some events of the not so far away past.
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
I let my characters decide as a pantser. I never truly think that far ahead when writing. That way I can have ideas without any preconceived notions. Everything will be a surprise and fresh!
Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?
I absolutely love when Genie says “I want to be the Genie that oozed confidence and drew attention when attitude turns and Italian Fouettes were just a part of my drip.
It’s so quintessential Genie. She ties so much of her worth in what she can do, and now that she can’t physically do those things it’s a tough spot for her to figure herself out.
Did you take ballet classes? If so, did anything from your classes inspire Turning? If not, what research did you have to do before writing Turning?
I kinda sorta took ballet. I was like 7 years old and it was a class out of many styles of dance in the day. It definitely wasn’t my favorite class. I learned the positions and did a bunch of plies though. I would say my appreciation for ballet in specific came a few years later, because I always enjoyed watching dancing, but it took a couple of years later for me to really get into ballet. I think it clicked for me when I won tickets to New York City Ballet as student of the month and I was so high and way back at Lincoln Center, but I was entranced. Because I’m not a dancer I watched a lot of documentaries and YouTube videos.
What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed Turning?
- Pointe by Brandy Colbert
- Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis
- With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo.
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
Hopefully another book if I can finish one!
ABOUT THE BOOK
In this raw, searingly honest debut young adult novel, a former aspiring ballerina must confront her past in order to move forward from a devastating fall that leaves her without the use of her legs.
Genie used to fouetté across the stage. Now the only thing she’s turning are the wheels to her wheelchair. Genie was the star pupil at her exclusive New York dance school, with a bright future and endless possibilities before her. Now that the future she’s spent years building toward has been snatched away, she can’t stand to be reminded of it—even if it means isolating herself from her best friends and her mother. The only wish this Genie has is to be left alone.
But then she meets Kyle, who also has a “used to be.” Kyle used to tumble and flip on a gymnastics mat, but a traumatic brain injury has sent him to the same physical therapist that Genie sees. With Kyle’s support, along with her best friend’s insistence that Genie’s time at the barre isn’t over yet, Genie starts to see a new path—one where she doesn’t have to be alone and she finally has the strength to heal from the past.
But healing also means confronting. Confronting the booze her mother, a recovering alcoholic, has been hiding under the kitchen sink; the ex-boyfriend who was there the night of the fall and won’t leave her alone; and Genie’s biggest, most terrifying secret: the fact that the accident may not have been so accidental after all.
Content warnings: Being newly paralyzed from accident, parental alcoholism, abortion.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joy L. Smith is a childcare professional and lives in Queens, New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, she has a bachelor’s degree in human development and differences, with a specialization in communication disorders. She’s been writing since she was a teenager and has been mentored by Ibi Zoboi, Radha Blank, and Emma Straub through the Girls Write Now program. Turning is her debut novel.